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A lesson in maturity

standard March 25, 2011 Leave a response

My 3-year-old is a bundle of needs with some flashes of personality.
My 5-year-old is a bundle of personality with some flashes of needs.

The realization about the radical difference between the two girls came to me yesterday as we were driving home and Little L was freaking out because I told her she couldn’t have noodles for dinner. She screamed about that all the way home and all the way until we handed her her dinner.

I had to send her to her room three times to cool off before she finally consented to eat her meal.

After dinner she threw a tantrum about the shower she needed to take, and once she was clean she threw another about the choice of pajamas she was given.

And when I tried to put her to bed without reading a book… well, all hell broke lose yet again.

She sobbed into my arms after I brushed her teeth and I finally was able to ask her if she’d napped earlier.

She hadn’t. No nap. Which explained her two hour streak of tantrums.

When Little L melts down it’s always because she’s tired or hungry. Her emotions are still very much tied to her physical needs.

C on the other hand was perfectly chipper all evening. Cheerful, amiable, helpful.The antithesis to the child she was last week during her school’s big play performance period. This week she’s hanging out at daycare, playing with the babies, being babied herself.

When C happens to melt down it’s more likely because she’s had a bad day and is feeling sad or hurt.

The difference between the two was glaring today. We assume they’re almost the same child because they look so much alike and play so well together. Their interests are the same, their pastimes perfectly compatible. And usually their needs are incredibly similar.

And then we have days when the differences are glaringly apparent.

At times I wonder if it’s a difference in personalities. Then I remember that Little L is just 3 and a half while C is almost 6.

What I witness boils down to a difference in maturity. Pure and simple.

Where’s my baby?

standard March 14, 2011 3 responses

The coughing startles me, sharp staccato burst after sharp staccato burst. I listen to see what kind of cough it is.

Pure asthma? Post nasal drip induced? Simple cold cough?

After five years of nursing two children through asthma exacerbated colds I can distinguish coughs so well that even at work I can tell when my coworker needs her inhaler even before she’s noticed.

Tonight Little L’s cough isn’t wheezy or scary. She’s reacting to a stuffy nose and some serious post-nasal drip.I try to let it go, but the bursts increase in frequency and keep me from falling back asleep.

I have a last ditch remedy, one that really shouldn’t work, but for some reason does, when nothing does the trick. Vicks VapoRub… on the soles of the feet.

It’s crazy. I know. But even snopes.com can’t completely debunk the myth. Fact is, it works. Despite having no scientific reason behind it. And who am I to turn down a solution that allows me to get some sleep?

I tiptoe into her room and find the little jar of salve. She’s curled into a tight ball, sweaty and hot to the touch.I untangle her from her blanket and loveys and smooth the hair out of her face. Then I gently ease my hand up her shirt to smooth some vaporub onto her chest. Hopefully breathing in the menthol will clear her nose a bit.

Then I turn my attention to her feet. I rub first one sole and then the next with the stuff, remembering how I used to do this when she was a baby, coughing late at night. In comparison these feet are huge in my hand. Still soft and sweet, but huge.

I ease her socks over her now sticky feet and tuck her back under her covers. In my minds eye I see her, small, feverish and sick, in her crib in our room. She was so small and vulnerable. This little girl though, in her big girl bed, with her pillow and comforter is no baby. She laughs, reasons, makes jokes, tells tales. She skips and hops, she can reach the light switch and even the sink.

Somehow, overnight, my baby stopped being a baby. And in just a few months she’ll be four. A four year old desperate to read like her sister. And even as my heart bursts with pride at seeing her become her own person in vibrant technicolor… my heart also clenches.

She’s my baby. My little one. It’s painful to see her outgrow her babyhood.

The vanishing belly

standard April 26, 2010 6 responses

Four years and change ago C was all belly. All belly and sweet cherubic rolls of fat. For the first four weeks of her life she was a skinny little thing, then overnight she chubbed out.

I was the cutest thing ever.

I’m not sure how, but until last week I hadn’t really noticed that she has shed most of that baby fat, growing into a lithe beautiful little girl. I can at times spot a trace of her toddler self in the dimples on the back of her fists or in the roundness of her cheek, reddened after a nap. For the rest, she’s all little girl.

It makes me sad at times to realize that I can’t stop time, hold her back. She starts Kindergarten in the fall, and while that’s still for little ones, I know that middle school and then high school are just a hop, skip, and a jump away from that.

I see her bright smile and trusting eyes and I want to hurt the first person who will break her heart. I want to shield her from all the harshness and unfairness of the world because I know how trusting and loving she is. I don’t want her to ever see the ugly before the beautiful. I want her to always see the good in people, to believe that anything is possible, to trust that being happy is all that matters.

Yesterday she slipped on a two piece bathing suit which I had thought would be cute with all its ruffles and bows. She posed for me and I froze. It wasn’t one of those cute toddler bikinis, showing tons of adorable baby belly and baby fat. It was… a bikini, that looked like a bikini, and it made me want to rush out to the store to buy her a slew of one piece suits to keep her a bit more covered up for the summer.

I’m glad I didn’t ask her to take it off though.

Because as I slathered on the sunscreen I had to cover that bare belly and under my hand it was still rounded and soft and felt exactly like that infant belly that I so lovingly coated in lotion after her bath.

She’s tall, she’s lanky, she reasons, analyzes, and questions like an elementary schoolgirl, but she’s still my baby. She’s still little.

Roots Everywhere

standard April 23, 2007 3 responses

I grew up in a different world. A world filled with french bread and yummy cheese, with snacks made of bread, butter and chocolate, with classy children’s clothes and outdoor markets. I grew up in France, and for the first seven years of my life that was the only world I knew.

A few days before my seventh birthday we moved from our lovely Paris home to an even nicer place in Rye, NY. I went from being a city child to a true American suburbanite. I learned to walk to school and go home at 3 instead of 5pm. I spent summers in my bathing suit going from neighbor’s house to neighbor’s house. In the winter I wore my snowsuit to school and changed in the hall with all of my friends. It was more than just a different world, it was a different universe.

By the time America grew to feel like home we were off again. London, England this time, and once again I had a slew of new customs and habits to get used to. By this time I was a little older and a little more aware of my surroundings. I attended an American school and had few British friends. Even though the language was the same, everything else about England was different and it took much longer to get used to living there. Eventually I found my place and I grew to love London.
And then we moved again. Back to France, a skip and a hop across the Channel. A world away nonetheless. I remember sitting at my desk in my new bedroom near Paris, sobbing to myself “I just want to go HOME!” The problem was that I couldn’t figure out where home was supposed to be. We’d been mere visitors in NY, even more transient in London. To all extents and purposes, I was home, it just didn’t feel like it at all.

That strange feeling of not belonging stayed with me for a long, long time. Even when I found my french roots and settled back into Parisian life I still had moments when I felt like a true outsider. To my French friends and family I never stopped being the American one. To myself I was always both.

I stayed in France for years. I went to high school and college. Made great friends and lived the French life. But I never strayed too far from my American side. I devoured English language books, saw American movies in their “original version” (English with sub-titles), found a few fun American restaurants, I even majored in English Literature. The French was strong in me, but it had some stiff competition.

The summer I turned 24 I interned in a NY advertising agency. I slipped right back into my American skin and in a heartbeat felt right at home. I never really went back to Paris. I met my husband that summer and just went back to pack up my life and move to Boston. M and I lived in France for a year before moving to California, and we’ve been here ever since.
This summer I turn 30, I’ve lived half of my life in France and half of my life in the United States. If you ask me where home is, it’ll take me a minute to answer. Home is here, and home is there. My roots are divided. France is the home of my childhood, America is where my life is. Some days I feel French, some days I feel American, there’s no rhyme or reason to it. I have no desire to live there, yet I miss it terribly. This place is so very different, so very foreign to my native land, yet I feel so at home here.

Sometimes I run into people who have lived all over the world. It barely takes a few minutes for the kinship to become apparent. We are the ones without roots, the tumbleweeds. Sometimes I envy the people who know where they come from, who can point to “Home” on a map, who have a place to run to when they need nurturing. But at the end of the day, I think we are the fortunate ones. The world is our home, our roots are everywhere.

This post was inspired by the Sunday Scribblings prompt Rooted. Click here for more amazing entries.